RICHARD WILLIAMSON Nature Trails...Perfect for pollinators

Cicestrians have enjoyed a wonderful display of crocus flowers in the recreation grounds of New Park Road on the northeast of the city this spring.

Local resident Brian Henham took this photograph of a bee busily collecting pollen, then he made an extraordinary discovery which he has asked me to reveal.

Hopefully what he has found will influence the city’s parks and gardens designers for these crops of flowers which we all so much enjoy.

Honey bees, bumblebees and hoverflies were enjoying the crocus garden, too.

Brian took photographs showing them collecting pollen and nectar for hives and nests.

Everyone knows how vital it is for our own food crops to encourage bumblebees and other insects to pollinate these vital needs of life on earth.

Then Brian walked across the road into Jubilee Park to see whether insects were using the flowerbeds there. He drew a blank.

No insects were to be seen at all on the colourful displays of polyanthus.

They may look pleasing to us but without scent and nectar or useful supply of pollen, they were a just desert to the honey bees.

Brian says it has been obvious to him for some time that more could be done to show which plants we should be planting in our gardens and parks.

Food labelling tells us how much fat and salt and various chemicals are in the food we have to eat.

At the present time garden centre flowering plant labels tell us how to look after the plant we are going to buy, showing whether they need full sun, part shade, or full shade.

He was therefore delighted to discover the RHS now produces a plant list under the heading of ‘Perfect for Pollinators’ with the logo of a bumblebee on the Royal Horticultural Society name.

Bedding plants are nowadays so interbred and hybridised they have lost the ability to breed and with it their enticements of nectar and scent.

As far as I’m concerned urban gardens are often a desert for wildlife, like hanging a picture of flowers on your wall.

I know not everyone will agree, but the terrific display of crocuses the city gave us this spring which cheered us all up had the added satisfaction of being useful to us all as well.